Bluffton, Midway advance to state after injuries and forfeit ends championship game

The final game ended after two Midway players collided near the dugout.

Bluffton Brave members shake hands with injured catcher Cory Odland as the game concluded after Midway was forced to forfeit the game. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

PERHAM — With Midway up 5-2 over Bluffton in the eighth inning, it was looking like the Snurdbirds would once again prove themselves the better team in the regional championship game Saturday night — and then tragedy struck.

A popup sailing towards Midway's dugout had Snurdbird catcher Cory Odland and third basemen Stetson Burkman careening towards each other. With all eyes on the ball in the sky, shouts of warning were too late as the two collided and crashed to the ground.

After minutes on the ground, Odland was able to sit up, but had to be helped off the field and was eventually seen with his ankle wrapped in ice. Burkman, however, never sat up and and an ambulance was called to the field to eventually wheel him out on a stretcher. He was able to speak and answer questions for EMS staff and volunteers that ran to his aid, but made very little other movement other than a thumbs up as he headed for the ambulance.

Later on Saturday night the Snurdbirds announced Odland had a badly sprained ankle and Burkman was discharged from the hospital.


With two players injured, the Snurdbirds could not field a team of nine players needed and forfeited the game to Bluffton. It was a turn of events that shocked the crowd and players on the field.

The Bluffton Braves pose with their 14C tournament trophy after their win by forfeit Saturday, Aug. 14, in Perham. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Following the forfeiture, Bluffton, accepted the trophy as 14C regional champions without the usual fanfare. Mixed feelings continued as it was announced that there would be a 14C co-MVP, with Midway's Zach Etter and Bluffton's Josh Dykhoff both being honored. The announcement did not go over well for some of the Snurdbird fans, who said Etter should have been the hands down MVP. Etter has been a heavy slugger this season for the team and last struck with a home run that drove in 3 runs, giving the Snurdbirds a healthy lead over the Braves.

IMG_1762 (2).JPG
Midway pitcher Zach Etter pitches against the Bluffton Braves Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Perham. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

Bluffton Brave player Kyle Dykhoff, however, said both players deserved accolades for their work in keeping their teams alive.

"I think both players are deserving," Dykhoff said. "Zach had a heck of a tournament for Midway, hitting three home runs. He really stung us," Dykhoff said. Meanwhile, Josh came in as a 17-year-old, having a major role in holding back the batting power that Midway is known for.


Chris Baso, of the Snurdbirds shared that the team is hit hard with the injuries but will come up with a plan to continue on their tradition of making it to the state tournament.

"Unfortunately with the accident, two guys playing hard, they collided and neither one could play," Baso said of the bizarre end of the game. "We're still playing and we'll come back." Baso lives in Waconia and looks forward to a short commute to the state tournament.

"Never seen something like that," Kyle Dykhoff of the Bluffton Braves said of the crash that ended the game and handed the Braves the win.

He hoped for a speedy recovery for both the injured Midway players.

The Braves come into the state tournament as the No. 1 seed and get a bye, a much needed rest after having to rumble with New York Mills on Friday, and Perham and Midway Saturday, earning wins in each game. This is the Braves fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament.

Just before advancing to the championship on Saturday, the Braves took on and ousted the Perham Pirates 10-2. They had to first beat New York Mills Friday, which they did with a score of 4-2.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
What To Read Next
Get Local